Mother and daughter, Nikki and Mandy Atherton. Picture: Contributed
Mother and daughter, Nikki and Mandy Atherton. Picture: Contributed

Tumours were ‘like scrambled eggs in her brain‘

“IT was like scrambled eggs in her brain, it was just everywhere,” Mandy Atherton said.

Mrs Atherton lost her daughter Nikki to brain cancer almost three years ago, but said the tears had not dried.

“June, July are grieving months for me,” she said, “but I cry all year round.”

Nikki Atherton was just 22 when she passed away from the disease on August 24, 2017.

Mrs Atherton said her daughter had been having headaches when a week later, the doctors discovered a golf-ball sized tumour in her brain.

Former Holy Spirit College student Nikki Atherton passed away from brain cancer in 2012 at just 22 years old. Picture: Contributed
Former Holy Spirit College student Nikki Atherton passed away from brain cancer in 2012 at just 22 years old. Picture: Contributed

“It just happened so quickly.

“She was doing so well … of course they cut it out but there must have been some bits left and it just spread … there were little dots of it everywhere.”

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Mrs Atherton said the family even turned to the famed Australian neurosurgen Doctor Charlie Teo.

“He’s out there and aggressive with treatment but he couldn’t help us either,” she said.

Mrs Atherton said her daughter had moved back to Mackay only two months before learning of her terminal prognosis in February, 2017.

“She was meant to come home obviously.

“She never went back to hospital after (that).

“It was so bloody tough but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Nikki Atherton passed away on August 24, 2017 after a hard fought battle with brain cancer. Picture: Contributed
Nikki Atherton passed away on August 24, 2017 after a hard fought battle with brain cancer. Picture: Contributed

Now as a way to help deal with the pain, Mrs Atherton raises money for the Mark Hughes Foundation by selling beanies with the help of her work colleagues at Explore Property.

“It’s a horrible, horrible aggressive disease, the survival rate is so minimal,” she said.

“Every year, we build more awareness about the disease.

“Last year we sold 1017 (beanies) – an incredible, humungous effort.”

Mrs Atherton expects this year’s numbers will be down because of the coronavirus, but remains hopeful of any difference she can make.

“Let’s face it … we’ve got to do as much as we can,” she said.

“In 30 years, all the money fundraised and we are still no closer to finding out how (brain cancer) happens and how we lose so many of our young people”.

Mum Mandy Atherton said her daughter Nikki had a beautiful smile.
Mum Mandy Atherton said her daughter Nikki had a beautiful smile.

Her favourite memory of her daughter was her smile, she said, laughing about how Nikki had loved the camera.

“Thank god she did because we treasure those photos now.”

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She also thanked Nikki’s former teacher at Holy Spirit College, Anton Mayer-Miller for his continued support.

Former Holy Spirit College student Nikki Atherton passed away from brain cancer in 2012 at just 22 years old. Picture: Contributed
Former Holy Spirit College student Nikki Atherton passed away from brain cancer in 2012 at just 22 years old. Picture: Contributed

After Nikki passed, he “got all the students and all her friends to send in photos and stories and had this hard cover book made … (and) got it delivered to me,” Mrs Atherton said.

“It’s so beautiful, I smiled and laughed.”

Nikki was the Bilyana House Sports Captain in her final year at the College in 2012.

Holy Spirit College staff Anton Mayer-Miller, Christine van der Linden and Sally Ellis are getting behind the 'Beanies for Brain Cancer' initiative in support of former student Nikki Atherton who passed away from the disease in 2017. Picture: Contributed
Holy Spirit College staff Anton Mayer-Miller, Christine van der Linden and Sally Ellis are getting behind the 'Beanies for Brain Cancer' initiative in support of former student Nikki Atherton who passed away from the disease in 2017. Picture: Contributed

Mr Mayer-Miller said they were “proud to support” the “Beanie for Brain Cancer” initiative being “close to our hearts at HSC.”

“All proceeds go towards research, awareness and support of brain cancer patients and their families,” he said.

Cancer Council figures show in Australia about 2000 people are diagnosed with malignant brain tumours each year including about 100 children between the ages of 0 and 14.

Symptoms include headaches, nausea and vomiting, confusion and irritability, blurred or double vision, seizures, loss of consciousness, weakness in parts of the body and drowsiness.

Mrs Atherton urged people not to ignore headaches and to take them seriously.

Those wanting to support the Beanies for Brain Cancer cause can contact Mrs Atherton at Explore Property Mackay by visiting the office on the ground floor at 224 Victoria St, Mackay or by phoning 4898 1909.

Alternatively, the beanies can also be bought online. For more information, visit markhughesfoundation.com.au/


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